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Regular readers of Afterblow will know me from my ‘Diaries of a Solo Practioner’ series. I’ve had some thoughts bubbling around competitive HEMA, how to encourage participation and how to develop a sense of progression. Today I’m going to float an idea out there about things I’m looking at to either inspire others to develop my ideas or for people to pitch other ideas. I’m certainly not married to idea but I do draw on my experiences with other competition to help feed the idea.

A couple of disclaimers:

·         This probably won’t be a regular column unless this really generates ideas that provoke my thoughts

·         These are just opinions that can’t be fully fleshed out in the space of a blog post. If you think I’ve missed something big then please comment so I can examine it in another article! Thank you

Today we tackle: Tiers and encouraging competition in HEMA

The competitive HEMA scene is weird. You can walk straight into the biggest tournaments. This, understandably, puts a lot of people off. Who wants to travels to Gothenburg to lose? Now many people will still happily cartier bracelets go and try their luck but with HEMA tournaments selling out faster and faster, it’s going to become more and more difficult to persuade new people to attend. There are also people who want to compete without being thrown in against the best first time. Most other sports I’ve been involved in competitively (Rugby Union, Field Hockey and Soccer) have large governing bodies that deal with a lot of these issues whereas HEMA is less unified. This poses some difficulties but does provide us flexibility.

What are some of the barriers to competitive HEMA?

·         Cost – gear is expensive, travel is expensive and hotels are expensive.

·         Choosing a tournament – it’s difficult to know which tournament is right for you and what the results really mean in the grand scheme.

·         Availability of tournaments – are there tournaments available that you can actually make?

Of the above I want to mainly address the first two.

Choosing a tournament is hard, especially if you don’t want to head somewhere far away cartier love bracelet to lose five fights and head home. In other sport it’s easier, either you start at local events and work your way up or you join a team and compete at the level they compete at, normally being put in a team in line with your abilities. It functions as a sort of meritocracy, one that accomplishes a few things. Success as lower levels is rewarded with progression, you have the ability to develop at a suitable level before advancing, under performance is normally met with a return to a suitable level so that you can enjoy success and lower tier events tend to be more local, therefore accessible. The tiered competition provides context to your achievements which gives you achievable goals and provides you a suitable arena to hone your craft. When your ready there’s clear progression to the next stage.

In November I attended a side event cartier love necklace to a great tournament (the Broadwater Bucklerthon) hosted by School of the Sword. The whole tournament was based around sidesword and buckler. The side event was an invitational steel tournament but the main event was a nylon tournament for those who had never reached a quarter hermes replica jewelry final in a tournament before. I loved this idea. I took two students with me. That idea really stuck with me as a way to introduce people to competitive HEMA. Competitive HEMA is a way to test technique against the most unwilling of opponents and getting more people competing is a good thing in my mind. The tournament was great for several cartier nail bracelet
reasons bracelet replica cartier but I mostly loved the way it celebrated developing fencers.

This has got me thinking about how I would encourage competition and, in doing so, I remembered the Dutch Lions Cup in August 2016. The winner of the tournament (the great Frederico Dall’Olio) won a ticket to Swordfish.

I’m now looking at stealing/consolidating some of these ideas. I would start with a single day tournament for beginners. Something akin to the Broadwater Bucklerthon in scope. The tournament would aim to encourage new competitors with the prizes being items of HEMA equipment and a ticket to my second event for the winner.

The second event would be a more traditional open involving the same celebrities wearing love cartier bracelet
weapons as event 1. It’d be a bit more expensive but still affordable and would provide the winner a ticket to a large, open event (something like a Nordic Historical Fencing League event). The other prizes would be some more gear. This event would be a steel event and would involve working with other clubs in the area.

My hope is that each step removes some of the financial burden on the advancing competitors (allowing people to gear up as they move up). My concerns are around attracting too many good fencers to the open event and about the funding levels required. I am, however, running out of time so I’ll leave this idea here. It’s a brief look at how I’m approaching this idea to encourage competitive HEMA participation. I also think there is a good chance of running events aimed at newer competitors to help provide an opportunity to train judges.

HEMA isn’t suited to a wholesale shift and people shouldn’t be barred from higher competition but I do believe the HEMA competitive market place should cater to progression. More people in the competitive HEMA scene is a good thing and whether it’s a confidence or financial thing, I thing providing stepping stones is a great way forward.

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Author: Chris Bear

Chris got into HEMA in 2015 when he joined School of the Sword Reading. The main focuses of his training are sidesword and rapier, but he also enjoys fighting with sabres. One day he will take the plunge and start training in longsword.

Chris is the owner and editor of AfterBlow which makes it all his fault.

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